Updated: Dec 3, 2021
I like to think about, dance, hum (or even sing very poorly) the song, Eye of the Tiger by Survivor when I'm gearing myself up for something to feel really motivated. Motivation can be tricky, you know? There's Motivation towards something like a goal or desire or even a reward, and there's also Motivation away from something like pain or discomfort. Turns out the motivation away is a more automatic or primal response, and it is necessary to survive, however, research shows that motivation towards can be the key to affecting change. Someone can know they are having health consequences from smoking or being overweight, which certainly is motivation away from whatever health consequences, conditions, or symptoms are showing up, yet they still might find changing their behavior to be a challenge if they do not develop motivation towards something else. You see, when we focus on what we don't want (say discomfort or health issues), we are NOT focusing on what we DO want, which can make getting there pretty difficult, particularly if we are attempting to give something up like a habit. When we create space by giving something up, we want to put something positive in that space, and we also want to be focusing on the things we DO want because our beautiful subconscious (or unconscious if you prefer) minds are always listening. If for instance, I wanted to stay away from chocolate (for whatever reason), I would not make affirmations or suggestions (in or out of self-hypnosis) to myself about chocolate or Not having it...the deeper parts of the mind only register chocolate and want it all the more. Now, if say, chocolate made me feel overly full and tired, I might focus on what I did want (like feeling light and energetic for yoga and meditation), thereby focusing on how I DO WANT to feel.
Now, as an artistic person, I am blessed (some might disagree, lol) with many dreams, desires, and wants/goals. Some of them are more like wishes as in something might be nice, but I wouldn't really put much effort into it, but others are full on burning desires. When I have one of those full on burning desires, I'm told I am quite ferocious and a force to be reckoned with, invoking my internal Eye of The Tiger, or as I sometimes self-coach myself: "Keep your eyes on the prize". Sometimes my burning desires don't really seem to make much sense, especially to others, but boy when I have one, Look Out!
For instance, somewhere around 2008 or 2009, after having been in a serious car accident and while struggling with nursing school and some serious personal issues, I happened into my first true yoga class...something I thought might be good for the stress, depression, and anxiety I was experiencing. I had thought it would probably be too easy since I had been a professional dancer for so many years, but what the heck? It was an amazing and very humbling experience to say the least. The class was a very tricky power vinyasa flow style, which was physically demanding, but also highly confusing as I had zero knowledge of the poses nor the sequences and I believe most of them were given in Sanskrit (the ancient language of yoga similar to Latin or Hebrew), which I had certainly never heard before. I was anything but graceful, sweating profusely (and it was not a hot class), on the wrong foot if not facing the wrong direction more often than not, and even falling over a time or two! BUT...I was in awe...in awe of the relief both my mind and my body felt from the synchronization of breath and movement...in awe of both the art and science of it all woven together. So, I dove into yoga, sometimes taking 2 or 3 classes, often in a row first thing in the morning, even after working all night. Then I saw an advertisement on the studio's bulletin board for their upcoming yoga teacher training, and I felt that surge...that flow of desire...my inner Eye of The Tiger, and it was ON!
Turns out my life was so chaotic back then, that they called me in for an interview to see if I was a suitable candidate for the program. They were fairly curious as well because at that time I had no desire to actually be a yoga teacher...to teach yoga. I simply wanted to learn everything I could about yoga, and most of that is really not often taught in your typical public yoga class.
Also turns out, I probably was NOT a great candidate at that time, but the Grand Master Teacher (who is now in her late 70s) saw my spark, and informed me that while my constitution (an ayurvedic term) was weak, she felt I had the drive. This was a life-changing moment for me in so many ways. I was kind of a thorn in the school's side for the majority of that year. I still smoked cigarettes, something that is never going to be popular in a yoga setting with the focus on health and breathing, and I'd show up to class with a coffee full of 7 artificial sweeteners, a Gatorade, and a soda, but certainly never with the standard water bottle. When it came to the week long immersions similar to retreats in that we would all stay in a cabins in the woods far from home, I'd be up reading until dawn at which point I'd finally drift off to sleep, having been a night shift worker for so long, and then they'd send an assistant to drag me out of bed to breakfast, which I never ate, and then off to the mediation cushion, where I'd often be poked for snoring. On another occasion, I flew in to attend one of these immersions after spending 5 weeks in PA doing home hospice care for my grandmother. Her schedule was so very different from mine, that I got off track and between that and the cold weather, I didn't practice yoga or really do much other than sleep and care for my grandma that entire 5 weeks. I was so stiff and sore during that immersion that I literally cried through almost every practice for 4 days until my muscles loosened enough for me to once again touch my toes. I was a complete mess, but I would not stop, and thankfully they did not kick me out.
Fast forward to the present, 11 years after graduating from that program, and I haven't smoked in 9 or 10 years, and I rarely drink sugary drinks or chug a pot of sweet n low laden espresso for breakfast. I drink and enjoy water and tea, and love healthy food. Of my graduating class, I believe I am the only one who still teaches, or at least regularly. In fact, I went on to graduate from the advanced yoga teacher training at that same school 4 years ago, have assisted in their teacher trainings, taught in other teacher trainings, run workshops and programs, and I am in the process of completing my Yoga Therapy Certification through Kripalu's School of Integrative Yoga Therapy. I stay in touch with that Grand Master Teacher as well as the studio I graduated from because they gave me a chance and they taught me much of what I know about determination and motivation. They were wise souls. They never insisted I change my diet or give up smoking...that likely would have led to my resistance, but I remember them saying that I might just be surprised one day...that my desires for those things might just fall away as newer, healthier thoughts and habits were introduced and became more and more attractive if not all by themselves, then perhaps because of how my body would feel from these newer, healthier ways on its own or while practicing yoga. Who says yoga teachers aren't hypnotists?
Now, things could have gone very differently if my motivation was not towards learning more about yoga and experiencing this new found way of life...probably would have turned out very differently indeed if my only motivation was solely away from stress, anxiety, and depression. Yes, yoga did help with all of that, but I'd still be focusing on the problem state and not on being in the FLOW state that yoga, learning, and hypnosis give me. And being in that FLOW state is often my greatest motivation. My inner Eye of The Tiger!